BY JOY STRUTHERS
Conestoga College had a lockdown drill Sept. 19 that was successful in some ways, but it left many students feeling confused about the changes in procedure.
Janet Mannella, the occupational safety manager at Safety and Security Services, said learning about options was the purpose of the drill and that she thought it went well.
“It’s always great to have the drill as a learning tool,” she said.
There are different ways in which the school communicates a threat or drill. It is important to test equipment and practise using safety measures.
Internal speakers broadcast a message stating the emergency, and a beacon flashes in the hallway to signal the threat to those who can’t hear the announcement.
Messages also show up on faculty computers and on phones.
The school has a safety app that they tell new students about during orientation.
“As long as you subscribe to the app, the text message will come up on your phone. It will tell you that a lockdown drill or a fire drill is going on, or whatever message we put up there,” said Mannella. “We did have about a thousand people who recognized the text message during the drill.”
The option to run in the event of a violent threat is new to students, especially those just out of high school where they were taught to stay in classrooms or hide in safe places, barricade themselves in and turn off the lights.
This is definitely an option, but adult students should be able to make a decision about what they want to do.
A new video made in partnership with the University of Alberta advises students to get out, hide or fight in an active shooter situation.
Conestoga’s website states that in the event of a violent threat you should assess the danger and either hide and conceal yourself or evacuate the building.
If there is gun fire they recommend these options:
Run and get out, choosing a safe exit if safe, and moving far away from the building.
Hide in a secure room or space. Turn off the lights, lock and barricade the door and seek cover.
Notify security at ext. 5555 immediately.
Assist people with disabilities exiting the area.
Notify others in the area to exit the building immediately.
Do not attract the shooter’s attention
Running to safety, especially if a student is close to an exit, would be the first option.
Security Services is working on setting up locations for students to meet farther
away from the property if they choose to run.
If there is an active attacker the options are similar. First, evacuate if possible, then barricade if you have to.
Conestoga also suggests if students are taken hostage they should stay calm and follow instructions.
One student said she wouldn’t run outside of the building in a lockdown.
“In high school we learned about shootings in the States. If you were to run outside, there were gunmen waiting out there,” said Alysha Kirk, a first-year applied health information science student.
Amy Alcott, from the same program, agreed.
“I don’t think I would run. I would probably lock myself in somewhere.”
Many students who saw and heard the alert during the drill did go outside, and stood around the school.
Casey Vanleeuwen, a second-year broadcast – radio student, had never heard of “run, hide or fight.”
“I would just run, but I have no idea what you’re supposed to do,” he said. “I don’t want to be anywhere near any violence or guns, and the fighting part seems a little dangerous.”
“It’s a good idea to practise,” said Marcella Aldana, a third-year office administration – executive student. “I didn’t recognize it (the alarm) and didn’t know what to do.”
Even if it was just a drill, Security Services wanted students and staff to take it seriously. The drill was a chance to educate and have discussions about safety.